Father Groups in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Supportive Intervention

Tascha Ravn Lægteskov, Kristina Garne Holm, Mette Petersen, Rasmus Klitbøl Lysdal, Brian Rafn Hjelvang, Anne Brødsgaard


BACKGROUND: Parents' participation in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) reduces length of stay and positively affects infants' psychological, cognitive, and behavioural outcomes. Healthcare professionals in the NICU focus on both parents, but tend to have the main focus on the mother and the infant. Therefore, fathers may experience a lack of support and feel that they are being disregarded in the NICU.

PURPOSE: To study fathers' experiences with father groups during NICU admission with their preterm infant. The father group is a 90-minute intervention based on dialogue between fathers and a male healthcare professional.

METHODS: A qualitative content analysis was conducted using 10 online semistructured interviews with fathers participating in a father group. The study was reported according to the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research.

RESULTS: The overall theme emerging from our analysis was "Emotional support, encouragement, and an enhanced capacity to deal with the situation and with life in the NICU." This theme emerged from the categories "Meeting with peers and sharing reflections" and "Fathers' territory" based on 5 subcategories.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Participation in father groups gives fathers recognition for being important as parents in the NICU, improves fathers' mental well-being, and enhances their coping capacity. Father groups support fathers in the NICU and can be integrated into NICU practices and policies to enhance a family-centered approach.

IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH: This study revealed a need for further research to determine whether participation in a father group has a measurable effect on clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in neonatal care : official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)478-486
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers/psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature/psychology
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Parents
  • fathers
  • mental health
  • family-centered nursing
  • premature infant
  • self-efficacy
  • neonatal intensive care units
  • peer group
  • qualitative research
  • interview


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